In this era of greatness Novak Djokovic is one match away from accomplishing a feat that his greatest rivals, Federer and Nadal could never do. That’s win all four slams in the same season. In over a hundred years of Grand Slam tennis only two men have done it, the American with the sublime backhand Don Budge in 1938 and remarkably Rod Laver did it twice, in 1962 and 1969.
The 25-year-old Russian Daniil Medvedev wants to crash this party, especially having lost both his Slam finals, one in a blowout to Novak earlier this year in Melbourne, the other at the US Open two years ago to Rafa, he won’t want to make it 0-3.
Why Novak will win
This moment for the Serbian goes beyond forehands backhands and serves, it will be about controlling his emotions and dealing with a pressure that no men’s player has faced in over 50 years. His level of play in the five set semi victory over Zverev at times was high, but mostly he played within himself, reacting to the firepower coming from the German but when it got close he kept calm, that will be key here. If this match gets tight and Novak doesn’t blow a fuse he’ll win.
Why Medvedev will win
Djokovic has to open the door for the Russian to have a chance, if he can take advantage of Novak coming out flat or playing too passive then Medvedev can dig his way into this match and turn it into a grinding battle, whilst using that big first serve which has registered 70 aces so far in the tournament.
The crowd here could be a factor as well, do they cheer for the underdog or an established champion chasing the remarkable? I wouldn’t be surprised if they get behind Medvedev who has a chance, but only if Novak lets him in.
This will be the 31stSlam final for Djokovic and probably his most important, when speaking about this match he said, “I’m going to put my heart, my body, my soul and my head into that one”. He knows what’s at stake, and also likely knows this opportunity will never come around again.
I imagine in this match he may go for more, trying to up the pace from the baseline, as a war of attrition will favor Medvedev, who’s spent far less time on court.
If Novak can handle the moment and play consistently at a high enough level for long stretches he’ll win his 21stmajor and the calendar year Grand Slam. I’m tipping him in 4 sets to accomplish the unthinkable.